The Shrinking Sea
I've started doing some book reviews to help build a name for myself as a blogger and as an author. I'm lending a hand...offering free services...hoping it will kickback some sort of return.
Here is one of the first books sent to me as a request. It is available on Amazon/Amazon UK for just 2.99, I think its well worth the price.
Written by Steve King
The Shrinking Sea is a family story, literally, a story about sisters who long to meet despite being separated by land and sea. King’s book is fairly new but it reads like a classic.
First of all, this story has a wonderful cover. I just wanted to point that out before I begin my review.
I’ve read stories about divorce and stories about broken homes/families but this one is definitely the brightest. There are no mean stepmothers or evil step-sisters. Everyone genuinely gets along which is always a plus because I hate hating a character.
The beginning of the book got me hooked right away, it opens with a pretty intense basketball scene with a group of high school girls enjoying the view. I thought this setup would make for a great romantic novel but you know, that’s just the inner fangirl in me coming out. *Note that there is some romance in this story, and it’s between my two favorite characters so yay!* From this point we meet each girl; Celeste—my favorite—Susan, Joanne, and Priscilla. We see them for who they are, young girls with crushes and homework and high school gossip to discuss. But then we see them at their core.
Celeste is born into a broken family. She lives with no father figure and has to struggle through life with just her mother by her side. It’s heart-wrenching but warming at the same time. Celeste is a strong female lead, not that she can run ten miles without breaking a sweat, not that she can take out bad guys in six-inch heels, she is strong willed. She takes everything thrown her way and comes out as best she can with a smile on her face—albeit forced at times.
I don’t think I will ever forget this book because it reminded me of my high school days, the first chapter just scooped me up and sent me back to those confusing times. I loved the dialogue, how it included tidbits of information about each person, I loved the structure and set up for introducing each character and I loved—loved—that there were no information dumps or overloads. In a book that starts off mid-conversation between four high school girls, it’s easy to get lost. But King does this book justice in presenting to us a story that is full of vivid emotion and breathtakingly beautiful characters.
That’s the next point I want to make about this book.
Minority characters!! Yay diversity!!!
Now, most people think black or white when it comes to diversity. No, this is not an urban novel, it’s not about the black struggles or racism or scorn the white man. This is pleasant, this is not controversial, this is not a cry for civil freedom. It’s simply a beautiful book about a few beautiful Filipinos—Celeste is only half Filipina which plays a part in the story (go mixed girls!). I think we need more diverse books and this piece could be the forerunner of that change.
Some parts of the book did seem kind of empty. I wanted a little more detail here a few more facial expressions there. But that’s another personal preference, not a serious critique.
While I wouldn’t necessarily label this book as ‘religious fiction’ some of the characters do attend church services and express their commitment to their faith. I can personally appreciate this as a Christian myself, it’s always nice to include religion when exploring diversity. But, like I said, the role that religion plays in this piece is so minute I wouldn’t label it as a religious read.
I would recommend The Shrinking Sea to anyone who enjoys coming-of-age books with female/minority leads. Anyone who likes friendships or just wants to have some positivity in their life, this is a good way to lift your spirit and appreciate your family and friends.